The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Stress in the Workplace

Mental health issues take a huge amount of managerial time, leading to lost productivity and stress, as well as increased absenteeism, this article will outline the steps organisations can take to prevent stress in the workplace. It is meant to serve as an easy to follow, the ultimate guide to proactively tackling stress in the workplace.

What are the symptoms of stress in the workplace?

Spot the signs of stress in your employees can be straightforward to the trained eye. Most managers are now trained to be aware and look for the symptoms of stress in their team members. Whilst most have the necessary training the next step is to ensure that the subsequent conversation around mental health flows with ease and practice.

Symptoms of stress to be aware of include:

  • Reduced quality of work
  • Increased lateness
  • Frequent short-term absences
  • Changes in personality – a persistent short temper, frustration, emotional outbursts
  • Disengagement or distraction in a usually energetic staff member
  • Decreased productivity

Whilst the first step is to notice these kinds of changes. The second step is a little trickier for most managers when trying to address them. Managers need to discover in the first instance wither these symptoms are directly related to work. Are these stress symptoms work-related, if so what can be down to improve the situation. This requires a sensitive approach where the manager listens in a sensitive and open-minded manner. Noticing and observing how the employee sees the problem. Then feedbacking the issue as they have understood it before adding and what they think may help.

Understanding the problem from the employee point of view will ensure an effective and efficient solution. Spending quality time to consider the issue is essential to a speedy resolution. If for instance, the problem is work-related for instance:

  • a technical issue,
  • lack of or inadequate tools
  • inadequate equipment,
  • unclear direction,
  • workplace bullying
  • centred around another team member not pulling their weight,

Then the situation is under the control of the immediate line manager who will be able to both control and improve the situation.

How do you monitor stress levels in the workplace?

Monitoring stress levels requires conducting regular risk assessments. Risk assessments around mental health are similar to other risk assessment.

The steps are to:

  • identify what could cause mental illness in your organisation
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be affected by mental illness and how seriously
  • take action to eliminate or control the risk

Taking positive action and steps to prevent employees from experiencing stress-related issues at work means identifying the risks. Proactive prevention is better than cure. Identifying the potential causes of workplace stress is the first step.

Stress in the workplace

What are the causes of stress in the workplace?

There are many causes of stress in the workplace and awareness of these will reduce their impact on employees. Some examples of the causes of stress at work include:

  • long work hours
  • tight deadlines
  • lack of reward
  • heavy workload
  • job insecurities
  • boring work and arduous procedures,
  • office politics,
  • lack of autonomy or flexibility,
  • tensions with senior staff members or line managers.

“Employees don’t leave Companies, they leave line managers”

Gallup Poll 2017

Gallup poll in 2017 of over 1 million employees left businesses because of issues with their line managers.

More recent research conducted by CIPD found that almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents identified heavy workloads as the top cause of taking time off for stress, with management style taking second place.

A manager who doesn’t support their team or who are inflexible at the time of need will lose the respect and diligence of their team. Unsupportive and inflexible line managers the primary cause of unhappiness at work. Employees see the organisation only through their immediate manager. A manager that is unrelenting will reflect how the employee sees the entire organisation. If staff feel unprotected from their line manager it raises the question in their mind- what did the organisation do about it?

Losing key performers means a skill gap in an organisation but also a loss of motivation for those that remain.

How do you manage stress in the workplace?

Whilst employees can take steps to improve their own mental health and build resilience; there are organisational obligations that are also required legally. An organisation need to consider a number of issues including what they shouldn’t do when an employee is off with work-related stress. If you would like to read more feel free to visit my more detailed response in a previous article: How to handle employees off with work-related stress

Resilience can be personal, organisational or a tream response.

In terms of personal resilience, this can be measured in terms of your ability to cope with adversity. Resilience is a skill that can be cultivated and ensuring a strong self-care routine to be practised daily. It isn’t easy especially if we feel anxious, depressed or low in self-esteem.

Organisational and team resilience can be built into ‘wellbeing programmes’ offered to key managers. If you like more advice, help and constructive feedback on how to put together an efficient and effective Resilience Strategy book a call with me, Adele Stickland and together we can discover what stage your organisation is currently at. Then work through how you can best implement the most proactive strategy that will best serve your employees.

How can employees reduce stress in the workplace

Discuss your concerns with a Coach
Talking about your feelings can help you maintain your mental health and deal with times when you feel anxious

Keep active
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem will help you concentrate and sleep well.

Get your Nutrition Right
What you eat will have a huge effect on how you feel both immediately and in the longer term. A diet that is good for
your physical health is also good for your mental health.

Find Suitable coping mechanisms
Drink sensibly often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.

Take a break
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.

How can management help support employees who are stressed?

I’ve outlined below brief overview of how my Resilience Workplace Training reduces workplace stress, if you’d like more details then book a call with me, Adele Stickland and together we can discover what stage your organisation is currently at, and how you can best implement the most proactive strategy that will serve your employees

Level 1: Company culture Check

Check the culture and climate of the organisation which starts with an organisational audit which can be assessed through employee engagement surveys, wellbeing surveys or more personally and directly through a cultural check-in focus group.

Level 2: Create awareness around Choice for managers

After improved awareness of the actual cultural temperature around wellbeing, this is followed up with subsequent awareness for key managers to create consistency across the organisation so that all managers are aware of the values of the organisations.

Level 3: Managers develop a Conscious Commitment to incorporate resiliency techniques

Taking the previous level to a deeper engagement so that key managers change their behaviour and embed the learnt skills and resiliency techniques on a daily basis.

There are 3 more levels to The 6 Core Levels of Organisational Resilience ™️. It is a continuum of six organisational resilience levels. Ideally, these levels will work chronological and start at level 1.  Each level ideally is strengthened and build upon the previous level. and built upon through each level or stage.

If you would like to read more check out my article: How My Resilience Workplace Training Reduces Workplace Stress

How can I help you with employee stress management?

Next steps

The best way forward is to book a call with me, Adele Stickland and together we can discover what stage your organisation is currently at, and how you can best implement the most proactive strategy that will serve your employees.

If you or your organisation would like assistance in creating or developing an existing Resilience Training programme to frame conversations and support managers and employees then:

The paper discusses the impact of Covid-19 along with the mental health issues that organisations can foresee which will take a huge amount of managerial time, leading to lost productivity and stress, as well as increased absenteeism. Collect your copy here 

Picture of Adele Stickland

Adele Stickland

Business Psychologist & ICF Accredited Coach | Expert in Team Dynamics & Communication Working with organisations to improve team dynamics and psychological safety by creating collaborative & productive teams. An MSc in organisational psychology and awards in education and training enable me to combine evidence-based approaches & tools to support individuals and groups in professional & personal development #Highperformanceteams #Millennialworkforce #Leadershipdevelopment #Employeeretentionstrategies #Millennialjobhopping #Managingmillennials #Teamengagement #Workforcemobility #Professionalgrowthandmentoring #Organisationalculturemillennials

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